Scots hacker Gary McKinnon's hopes dashed as Home Secretary refuses plea to block US extradition
THE Home Secretary last night rejected a last-ditch appeal to block the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the United States on computer-hacking charges.
• Gary McKinnon could be deported before Christmas after government refused to intervene
Alan Johnson said he had considered demands that he intervene, but had decided that the extradition would not breach Mr McKinnon's human rights.
"As the courts have affirmed, I have no general discretion," he said in a statement. "If Mr McKinnon's human rights would be breached, I must stop the extradition. If they would not be breached, the extradition must go ahead."
Last night, Mr McKinnon's lawyer, Karen Todner, described the decision as "beyond belief", said that she would be seeking a judicial review and the case might be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr McKinnon, originally from Glasgow, who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome – a form of autism – is accused of breaking into the Pentagon's computer system, but says he was on a "moral crusade" to find information about UFOs. If found guilty in the US, he can apply to serve his sentence in the UK.
His mother, Janis Sharp, said Mr Johnson and the government "should hang their heads in shame".
She added: "To force a peaceful, vulnerable, misguided UFO fanatic like Gary thousands of miles away from his much-needed support network is barbaric. This is a cruel and miserable decision.
"If the severity of Gary's medical condition isn't sufficient to prevent his extradition, I can't imagine what is. God help others facing a similar fate. I'm so upset and angry. Where are the 'very real safeguards' that the government consistently hid behind when forcing this appalling act through parliament?
"The only people who won't get extradited are terrorists facing the death sentence, the very people the act was meant to be about. What bitter irony."
Ms Sharp said that if the judicial review was not granted, then her son could be extradited before Christmas. Mr McKinnon, of London, was given hope last month when the Home Secretary agreed to study new medical evidence before deciding on his extradition to the US.
Mr Johnson's deliberations came after the High Court refused the 43-year-old permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against his removal to America.
But Mr Johnson said yesterday : "I have carefully considered the representations in the case of Gary McKinnon. I am clear that the information is not materially different from that placed before the High Court earlier this year and does not demonstrate that sending Mr McKinnon to the United States would breach his human rights."
Mr McKinnon's family say his health has deteriorated significantly under the pressure of the pending extradition and fears about how he will be treated by the US authorities.
The Home Secretary said there had been a number of assurances made about what would happen in America. "Firstly, … we have sought and received assurances from the United States authorities that his needs will be met.
"It is also clear from the proceedings to date that Mr McKinnon will not, if convicted, serve any of his sentence in a supermax prison.
"Finally, should Mr McKinnon be extradited, charged and convicted in the US and seek repatriation to the UK to serve a custodial sentence, the government will, of course, progress his application at the very earliest opportunity."
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